Tokyo National Museum
Katana Collection

Tokyo, Japan


Swords of the Samurai: National Museum of Tokyo

Partially reopened to the public last summer, the National Museum of Tokyo – the oldest and most prestigious museum in Japan – has been equipped with nine new Goppion showcases to house its precious collection of Katanas, the legendary swords of the Samurai.



Katanas represent perhaps the most famous symbol of Japanese culture. They are razor-sharp weapons used in combat for centuries, but are also refined works of art, with a complex forging process and inlaid settings of precious stones. They are charged with a deep religious and spiritual significance that has made them objects of reverence. Katanas have an enigmatic presence that transcends their practical purpose as a tool.

Consequently, they deserve a special setting on public display.Working with designs by architect Yoshikazo Yano, of the Tokyo National Museum Design Office, Goppion has created special showcases for the swords – seven vertical and two table-top units. All are particularly high performance in terms of preventive conservation (high airtightness, passive stabilization of relative humidity) and are characterized by the extreme linearity of the design, the refinement of the finishes and the meticulous care of the opening mechanisms.

The vertical showcases are equipped with internal tables for positioning the swords, resting on silk draperies that conceal the supports. They required, among other things, special attention to the regulation of the internal air-conditioning flows, to avoid any movement.

This is not the first time that Goppion has tried its hand with Japanese weapons. The showcases for the Museum of Tokyo represent the crowning achievement of a journey that began in 1990, in Milan, at the Civic Collections of Applied Art with the exhibition Armi dell'Antico Giappone and continued in 1993 with the weapons preserved at the Civic Museum P.A. Garda in Ivrea, Turin. Finally in 2001, Goppion created showcases for the collection of the Museo d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone in Genoa.